Growing up, my mom was private about girl stuff and things I should be aware of. My older sister Sandy and I shared a room and she was the one I went to with questions about life and guys and relationships. I was shy growing up and Sandy’s advice helped me to handle a variety of situations. I knew she always had my back although she did tease me a bit first.
I found some of the examples she shared about guy stuff to be a bit shocking, but since she was five years older than me, that was to be expected. She had a strong self-confidence which I envied and yet it forced me to reach beyond my lack of confidence. She suggested if a guy was being overly touchy-feely, and was making me uncomfortable, I should just hold his hands to prevent his roving. Sounded simple, but had never occurred to me. She told me never to be afraid to say no and mean it. She explained that if they objected to your no, maybe they weren’t the kind of person you wanted to be with anyway. I’ve always remembered this wise advice.
When I had my first job at the YMCA, we had a General Manager who I considered to be very wise. He coached me and encouraged me to take an active role in managing the pool and supervising the other lifeguards and instructors. He also encouraged me to be strong in my relationships. I had a boyfriend who worked with me and had issues that could have brought me down. With Mr. Beyer’s support, I was able to stay strong and be true to myself.
In High School, I had a couple of excellent teachers that stepped up and were open with me. They helped me to recognize strengths that I had in certain areas that I had a hard time owning. They encouraged me to never hold back in subjects like Math and Science just to please others.
Mr. Richardson taught Physics and Fifth-Year Science. He never hesitated to encourage me and to point out my abilities. He also felt strongly that I needed to go to college instead of planning a wedding the summer after High School. I have often wished I had listened and taken his wise advice.
I would have welcomed mentors after High School. I often struggled with decisions and seldom felt that I had anyone to bounce things off. I didn’t want to worry my family with my problems. I tended to mistrust my own choices and felt very alone in making life decisions.
Mentors can fill a huge hole in a person’s life. I find that I tended to push people away that could fill this role. I often appear to be stronger than I really am. My goal can be to please another person rather than to make the best decision for myself. Over time, I have improved with listening first and then deciding.
Being a mentor can be risk taking and often falls on deaf ears. I find the ancient Buddhist saying that “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear” to be accurate.